Angelina Jolie directs the memoir of Loung Ung (who also wrote the screenplay), a Cambodian woman who, as a child, survived the genocide brought upon her country by the Khmer Rouge in the mid-seventies, after the Vietnam War. The result is a triumph for Jolie and Ung, who succeed in telling the story through Ung’s eyes as a child.
Young Sareum Srey Moch is a movie miracle as Ung, a happy child the day the Khmer Rouge arrive in her town, marking her dad for death and causing her family to flee into the jungle. Jolie keeps the vantage point of the movie through the eyes of this child, ingeniously filming the landscape around her in a way a child would see it: as something beautiful being invaded by monsters. Moch is required to deliver every emotion in the role, and she delivers them in a way that would seem impossible for a child actress.
The movie is terrifying, and it should be. It stands alongside 1984’s The Killing Fields as a fierce, unyielding depiction of this terrible time in human history. Jolie filmed the movie in the Cambodian language, and it is actually Cambodia’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. It’s definitely a contender.
Available for streaming on Netflix during a limited theatrical run.